Clinical and IT collaboration drive value-based care

It is no surprise that healthcare shares the same challenges as other industries’ purchase and implementation challenges. The difference with healthcare is that the outcomes can literally be a matter of life and death. For this reason, it is even more critical that IT learns “the businesses” it serves, with special attention to those closest to the patient.

Whereas patient engagement used to be primarily focused on whatever measure it took to make the patient well, changes in legislation and hospital policy have put tremendous pressure on providers to show value for every stage of the patient care process. Needless to say, technology is pivotal in providing that care, and more important to documenting that value so that payers (insurance companies) transfer funds in the most efficient and timely way possible for reimbursement.

Much of this reimbursement strategy is driven by the relationship between the CIO and CFO in a healthcare organization. There are various subsets of these relationships, ranging from reimbursement specialists to revenue cycle technology experts, who assure the billing is done as quickly and efficiently as possible. But as with many other industries, many of these interactions focus on policies and procedures that percolate up from where clinicians are actually “touching” the patient, much like the “customer touch” retail store employees in a phone store.

Needless to say, the stakes of patient interaction (and the value of care) in the ICU are orders of magnitude greater than getting an upgrade in the iPhone department. However, one of the most contentious areas in healthcare technology stems from the disconnect between IT and those working in the clinical setting.

The gripe that clinicians have with IT starts with the purchase process and continues throughout the deployment and legacy technology retirement stages. Despite the illusion that the word “clinical” creates in the way of high technology skills, the truth is there is a tremendous variance in the comfort level that clinicians have in their relationship with technology.

Leverage tech-savvy nurses

As many on the front lines will tell you, doctors and nurses can be the most challenging. My research shows that there is rapid growth in what is referred to as Informatics Nurses who have a strong convergence of clinical and technology skills. It is wise for IT to identify these nurses, whether they have the formal title or operate as “technology ministers without portfolio.” CIOs in healthcare need not be reminded that nurses are the single largest population of full-time employees in the provider organizations, so the ability to have technology-proficient nurses translating implementation to the proletariat and giving unfettered feedback to IT can be incredibly powerful.

Perhaps most interesting is the disconnect that can occur between IT and clinical in embracing future technologies. Anyone who has survived a migration from Outlook to Gmail knows the pain and anguish that occurs at every level, with the help desk being the epicenter of the disruption. Those who have gone through similar implementations or migrations of Electronic Health Record (EHR) platforms across a network of healthcare system can attest to the fact that there is more excruciating pain being felt by the clinicians than there is among the patients seeking relief.

Our research tells us that while clinicians surely want technology that produces a higher quality of value-based care, the disruption that next generation technologies can cause at the patient-facing level can be astronomical. Their view of groundbreaking technology can be quite different than that of CTOs looking to improve their professional brand by stretching the limits. It’s no different than the famous Gibson quote stating that “the future is here, it’s just unevenly distributed.”

This is a world of harsh reality, where patients have become paying “customers” and patient satisfaction has become the number one KPI or Net Promoter Score metric. It is imperative that IT look very closely at the front lines of the continuum of care so as to assure there are no blind spots in the implementation and support strategies.

RELATED LINKS

Technology and the aging of medical practices

Healthcare 3.0 is digital

The connected healthcare ecosystem: Integrating medicine, data and IT

 

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